Fort Worth, Texas,
05:12 PM

Study Shows Kids, Parents Ignore Health Risks Of Sugary Drinks

Physicians concerned numbers aren't decreasing.

Time and time again, studies have shown that sugary beverages have been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. So why are parents still letting their kids consume these drinks that can be so dangerous to their children's health?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released statistics on Thursday that show children (and adults) are consuming almost the same number of calories from sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks and other sugary beverages today as they did in 2009-2010.

The CDC estimates that nearly two-thirds of American youth consume at least one sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day.

This may come as a suprise to many of us because a lot of kids have cut out drinking traditional sodas. But sodas aren't the only drinks that contain a lof sugar. Energy drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, iced teas and bottled coffees with sugars as an ingredient.

Kim Mangham, M.D., a pediatrician in Keller is concerned about obesity among today’s youth. Fighting obesity is a passion of Dr. Mangham and she calls sugar a “huge” factor in today’s kids becoming obese.

“Sugar affects the pleasure centers in your brain much like other addictive substances,” Dr. Mangham said. “I advise my parents to try to avoid offering beverages and processed foods high in sugar and added salt because kids will start to prefer these foods over the healthy natural fruits and vegetables.”

Dr. Mangham says removing sugar drinks from your home will lead to less weight gain in kids and that sticking to water and milk is a great first step in helping kids achieve a life free from the many burdens of obesity.

Joel Steelman, M.D., an endocrinologist at Cook Children's, states the higher sugar intake that makes kids obese is particularly easy to get when children drink it in the form of sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages. He uses this formula to explain:


Obesity, particularly when we’re talking about obesity in the waist area, leads to diabetes and metabolic syndrome risk,” Dr. Steelman said. “The fructose component in sucrose (table sugar) or in high fructose corn syrup is strongly suspected in impacting how our liver works and raising risk for diabetes. Also, high sugar intake can create a continued craving for more sugar.”

In a recent survey of Cook Children’s six-county service region, The Center for Children’s Health found that 32.9 percent of parents considered their child overweight or obese by the age of 2 years old. The service area of Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise was home to 115,143 children ages 2 to 14 with a BMI that was considered obese.

Dr. Mangham’s mother has type 2 diabetes and so do her siblings. When she speaks to families she talks to them about their family history and educates them on their risks of getting the disease.

“Parents are in control of the amount of sugar their children get per day, even if they don’t realize it,” Dr. Mangham said. “I advise my families to try to keep it out of the house, so everyone can be healthier. Kids are not mature enough to know when they have had enough candy or candy bars or donuts. They need their parents to set appropriate limits.”


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